Home » Nature » Savannah National Wildlife Refuge Visit; 23 October 2015

Savannah National Wildlife Refuge Visit; 23 October 2015

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The last week wasn’t a good one, and I needed to get away from the world and recharge the batteries so on Friday I spent a few hours at the Savannah National Wildlife Refuge. I got a late start and didn’t make it to the refuge until after 1000, but it turned out that my tardiness was a benefit. It meant that it was my first low tide visit in quite awhile. Autumn is in full swing, so the green grasses are rapidly turning brown, the leaves are turning color and falling from the trees, and migratory waterfowl are beginning to arrive; I saw a male Blue Winged Teal (usually some of the first to arrive in Autumn and last to leave in Spring) but he wasn’t close enough for a good photo.

Fiddler Crabs at the Savannah NWR gathering on a canal bank at low tide

Fiddler Crabs at the Savannah NWR gathering on a canal bank at low tide

Except for a lot of Red Winged Blackbirds among the tall grass that is rapidly browning, there wasn’t much to see until I got to the first rice trunk. While there I got to watch a Snowy Egret, a Great Blue Heron, and a White Ibis taking advantage of the low tide to fish and search for food. There are also a fair number of immature Little Blue Herons at the refuge and they look similar to Snowy Egrets in color and size, but even from a distance they’re easily distinguished by their legs. Snowy Egrets have black legs with yellow feet while immature Little Blue Herons have yellowish-green legs and feet.

Snowy Egret perched on a piling in a canal at the Savannah NWR...

Snowy Egret perched on a piling in a canal at the Savannah NWR…

But it didn't stay there long, taking off while I was trying to get photos of it...

But it didn’t stay there long, taking off while I was trying to get photos of it…

It flew over to another spot in the canal to hunt for small fish in the low water

It flew over to another spot in the canal to hunt for small fish in the low water

Snowy Egret at the Savannah NWR

Snowy Egret at the Savannah NWR

This Great Blue Heron was initially fishing in a deeper part of one of the Savannah NWR's canals...

This Great Blue Heron was initially fishing in a deeper part of one of the Savannah NWR’s canals…

But also decided to fly off while I was trying to take photos of it...

But also decided to fly off while I was trying to take photos of it…

And flew off to groom and along a canal bank

And flew off to groom and along a canal bank

Great Blue Heron at the Savannah National Wildlife Refuge, grooming on a canal bank at low tide...

Great Blue Heron at the Savannah National Wildlife Refuge, grooming on a canal bank at low tide…

And then getting back to the business at hand, hunting for a meal

And then getting back to the business at hand, hunting for a meal

White Ibis at the Savannah NWR

White Ibis at the Savannah NWR

This White Ibis was working its way along the bank of one of the Savannah NWR's canals...

This White Ibis was working its way along the bank of one of the Savannah NWR’s canals…

Probing in the mud and around the grass looking for a meal.

Probing in the mud and around the grass looking for a meal.

White Ibis at the Savannah NWR

White Ibis at the Savannah NWR

Farther down the wildlife drive, I came across a Great Egret that was doing the same thing – looking for a meal. It was working the edges of the area that the refuge recently flooded for the migratory waterfowl. It wasn’t far from this area where I saw the Blue Winged Teal; I had to pull out the binoculars to ID it, but the black head with white spot was unmistakable.

Great Egret at the Savannah NWR

Great Egret at the Savannah NWR

Snowy Egret at the Savannah NWR

Snowy Egret at the Savannah NWR

Snowy Egret hunting around the edge of an area of the Savannah NWR flooded for migratory waterfowl

Snowy Egret hunting around the edge of an area of the Savannah NWR flooded for migratory waterfowl

Snowy Egret hunting around the edge of an area of the Savannah NWR flooded for migratory waterfowl

Snowy Egret hunting around the edge of an area of the Savannah NWR flooded for migratory waterfowl

Most of the Alligators I saw were along the portion of the wildlife drive that parallels the diversion canal. I only saw 11 on this visit, but unlike previous visits, most all of them were large alligators. Most of them were taking advantage of the beautiful clear day and slightly higher than normal temperatures to take in the sun on the canal banks. The Alligator sightings were broken up by a Snowy Egret and Little Blue Heron sharing a stump left high and dry in one of the canals across from the diversion canal.

Partially hidden by the grass, this Alligator was cruising up the Savannah NWR diversion canal

Partially hidden by the grass, this Alligator was cruising up the Savannah NWR diversion canal

Alligator sunning on the bank of the Savannah NWR diversion canal

Alligator sunning on the bank of the Savannah NWR diversion canal

A quite large Alligator sunning on a canal bank at the Savannah NWR

A quite large Alligator sunning on a canal bank at the Savannah NWR

Not far from that large Alligator I saw a Snowy Egret (left) and Little Blue Heron (right) sharing a stump in the middle of the canal

Not far from that large Alligator I saw a Snowy Egret (left) and Little Blue Heron (right) sharing a stump in the middle of the canal

Snowy Egret at the Savannah NWR

Snowy Egret at the Savannah NWR

Little Blue Heron at the Savannah NWR

Little Blue Heron at the Savannah NWR

A large Alligator sunning on the bank of the Savannah NWR's canals

A large Alligator sunning on the bank of the Savannah NWR’s canals

It was a very good visit, one of the best I’ve had to the refuge in the last few months. As the temperatures fall lower and it gets deeper into Autumn, they’ll only get better… Autumn and Winter are my favorite times of the year to visit the Savannah NWR!


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